Raiders Draft Assessment Rounds 1-3

nfl draft oakland raiders

It has been a whirlwind first three rounds coming into today with the Raiders moving up and down the draft board, coming away with four draft selections as well as a player via trade. Head coach Jon Gruden and general manager Reggie McKenzie clearly came into the draft with key areas they wanted to address and are doing a good job of filling those roles. Let’s take a look at what they done so far.

Kolton Miller- 1st round (15th overall)

The Raiders started the first round by trading down from the 10th pick to the 15th pick with the Arizona Cardinals. For the move they received an additional 3rd round and 5th round pick. Trading down with defensive players like Minkah Fitzpatrick and Derwin James available certainly confused many fans and the draft choice didn’t do anything to alleviate their stress. Jon Gruden had talked about getting more protection for quarterback Derek Carr and he wasted no time in making that happen. They selected UCLA’s Kolton Miller.

The 6’9″ 310-pound tackle from UCLA will need some coaching to win constantly at the NFL level and Gruden is counting on offensive line coach Tom Cable to make that happen. Kolton’s footwork is his biggest issue as you can see in the video, that is very coachable though. The reps he is sure to get throughout mini-camp and training camp should get his drop sorted out.

Kolton Miller Oakland Raiders DraftThe most impressive aspect of Miller’s tape is how often he won his reps while exhibiting some flaws in his technique. He was able to overcome those flaws through his sheer athleticism which will make him that much better when he is more fundamentally sound. That athleticism is clearly what drew the Raiders attention.

“Reggie and I really have a lot of respect for this man’s athleticism, number one.” Gruden said. “He can pass protect. You can use him a lot of different ways. He can pull, he can redirect. He’s got a huge upside at a position that’s very hard to find. In the AFC West right now, the people that you have to block, Kolton, hate to break it to you but they’re pretty good.

“He’s got versatility, he can play right tackle, he can play left tackle. He’s got the right stuff inside. He’s going to be a huge part of our future. He’s playing a position that, like I said, is very hard to find these days.”

If the coaching staff can get Miller’s technique to match his physical talent level, the Raiders have a potental Pro-bowl caliber left tackle who is only 22 years old.

PJ Hall- 2nd round (57th) overall

In the 2nd round of the draft the Raiders again elected to trade down from their 41st spot to the number 57 spot while adding another third round pick. They took defensive tackle PJ Hall from Sam Houston State. This is a pick that should get Raider fans excited. PJ was at a smaller school so his name wasn’t as well know but he was quietly raising up boards in the weeks leading up to the draft.

Hall had a knack for finding the ball. He had 284 total tackles, 42 sacks, 9 forced fumbles, 4 interceptions, and 14 blocked field goals  in his 3 seasons. His ability to penetrate the offensive line will open things up for EDGE rushers Khalil Mack and Bruce Irvin.

PJ Hall Oakland Raiders draft

Hall will be an impact player up front for Oakland.

“Hall is an inside rusher. He’s a potential three-technique, outside shoulder of the guard, which is a critical part of this defense that we’re going to run here,” Gruden said. “With Paul Guenther, we like his production, we love his measurables. The only thing he isn’t is he’s not tall, but this man is extremely powerful. I believe he did 38 bench presses, 39” vertical. The man can run. We need an inside pass rusher, which I think I’ve said that since I’ve been here. Somebody that can disrupt running plays and penetrate, and this guy can do that, so we’re really excited to get him.”

Brandon Parker Oakland Raiders draft

Big Brandon Parker was small school, but a big talent.

Getting some interior pass rush was one of Gruden’s main objectives heading into his first season and he now has it. Hall has the physical tool to be the Geno Atkins of the Raiders defense.

Brandon Parker- 3rd Round (65th overall)

To start the 3rd round of the NFL draft the Raiders jumped up to the 65th selection from their 75th spot. The move cost them an additional 5th and 6th round pick. They took Brandon Parker a 6’8″ 305-pound tackle from North Carolina A&T.

The four year starter came from a small school so his name wasn’t as well known but he did show the athletic ability Gruden and Cable seem to be zeroing in on for their offensive line. Like Miller, his ability to be coached up with ultimately decide the value of these pick. Gruden doesn’t seem to worry.

“Well they’re young players. Obviously, Brandon comes from North Carolina A&T and hasn’t seen the high level of competition that he’s going to see when he comes here,” Gruden said. “Kolton Miller is an underclassman. So, we have a maturation that has to take place obviously, but like I said, we have, I think, very good mentors in place with Donald Penn and Breno Giacomini. I think we have one of the best line coaches in football. Look, I’ve gone around this league as a broadcaster. You cannot call plays without offensive tackles. You can’t do it. And we need depth and we’ve got to be better on the edge.”

It’s worth pointing out that drafting raw but athletic linemen and allowing Cable to coach them up did not work out during his time in Seattle. Gruden is banking on Cable learning from those struggles. The health and production level of Carr and this offense will depend upon it.

Martavis Bryant- 3rd round (trade with Steelers)

The Raiders traded the 3rd round pick they received for moving back in the first round to the Pittsburgh Steelers for wide receiver Martavis Bryant. Bryant had fallen out of favor with the Steelers and is getting a fresh start in Oakland.

During his time in Pittsburgh, Bryant has established himself as an explosive play maker who has the ability to take the top off of coverages. For his career he has amassed 126 receptions for 1,917 yards and 17 touchdowns. The 4.4 time the 6’4 wide out posted at the combine shows up on the field.

Joining fellow wide receivers Amari Cooper and Jordy Nelson gives Carr the best WR trio he has had in career and possibly in the NFL. The Raiders offense should rebound after a lackluster 2017 season.

Arden Key- 3rd round (87th overall)

In the 4th round the Raiders have a player that has the potential to be the steal of the draft. A shoulder injury and a reputation for liking to party are the only thing that kept Key out of the first round. Adding a player with Key’s pass rush ability will show up late in games next season.

The 6’5″ 240-pound EDGE ran a 4.87 at the combine but he plays much faster. Scouts attributed Key’s time on being out of shape while recovering from injuries and considered Key a 4.6 speed player. Players like Bruce Irvin and Khalil Mack may be the perfect mentors for this young guy. If they can mold Key into a professional player and unleash his full potential, the Raiders will have gotten a top-10 player in the 3rd round.

It is obvious that protecting the quarterback and attacking the opposing quarterback is the focus of this draft. There is a good deal of coaching required for this guys to reach their potential. Given some time and experience these picks could be the cornerstones of some of the most important parts of the Raiders roster. Add in what they did in Day 3, and the draft for the Raiders is becoming more clear with each passing pick.

What grade would you give the Raiders?